JENSEN: You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it, is that clear?! You think you have merely stopped a business deal that is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back. It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity, it is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations! There are no peoples! There are no Russians. There are no Arabs! There are no third worlds! There is no West! There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars! Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars!, Reichmarks, rubles, rin, pounds and shekels! It is the international system of currency that determines the totality of life on this planet! That is the natural order of things today! That is the atomic, subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And you have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and you will atone! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? (pause) You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen, and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT and T and Dupont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state Karl Marx? They pull out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories and miniMax solutions and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale! It has been since man crawled out of the slime, and our children, Mr. Beale, will live to see that perfect world in which there is no war and famine, oppression and brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you to preach this evangel, Mr. Beale.
MAX: Well, I’m just tired by all this hysteria about Howard Beale. And I’m tired of finding you on the goddam phone every time I turn around. I’m tired of being an accessory in your life. After six months of living with you, I’m turning into one of your scripts. But this isn’t a script, Diana. There’s some real actual life going on here. I went to visit my wife today. She’s so depressed my daughter ﬂew in from Seattle to be with her.
Yes, I feel lousy about that. I feel lousy about the pain I’ve caused my wife and kids. I feel guilty and conscience-stricken and all those things you think sentimental but which my generation called simple human decency. And I miss my home because I’m beginning to get scared s—less. It’s all suddenly closer to the end than to the beginning, and death is suddenly a perceptible thing to me. You’ve got a man going through primal doubts, Diana, and you’ve got to cope with it. Because I’m not some guy discussing male menopause on the Barbara Walters show. I’m the man you presumably love. I’m part of your life. I live here. I’m real. You can’t switch to another station.
I just want you to love me. I just want you to love me, primal doubts and all. We’re born in terror and we live in terror. Life can be endured only as an act of faith and the only act of faith any of us are capable of is love. You understand that, don’t you? (The phone rings. They stare at one another. Finally she picks it up.) You are a wasteland, Diana.